Bush’s Policy on Iraq Labels U.S. as ‘Belligerent Bully,’ Byrd Says

From Reuters

Democratic Sen. Robert C. Byrd blasted President Bush on Friday, saying he gives the United States the image “of a belligerent bully.” He said Bush’s contrasting handling of threats posed by North Korea and Iraq revealed major flaws in his foreign policy.

Byrd of West Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee that oversees federal spending, said Bush appeared eager to apply his doctrine of taking preemptive military action against less powerful countries, such as Iraq, but not against countries that may pose a nuclear threat, such as North Korea.

“What is the message we convey to the world if we are eager to apply a doctrine of preemption on those countries with limited ability to defend or counterattack, and yet waffle over a preemptive response to dangerous regimes with firepower to hit back?” Byrd said as a number of Democrats sharpened their criticisms of Bush’s handling of world affairs. “The unanticipated result of this doctrine may be to unleash a global scramble to acquire the means to deter the U.S. from unprovoked attacks,” he said on the Senate floor.


Bush has said the U.S. has the right to launch preemptive strikes against nations that have or are developing weapons of mass destruction that threaten the U.S. or its allies, which he said would justify an attack.

Byrd called that a bellicose position and said policymakers must “work to restore the image of the United States to that of strong peacekeeper instead of belligerent bully.” He said he was relieved the administration “appears to fully comprehend the folly” of a preemptive strike on North Korea, which may possess nuclear weapons, and was instead trying to defuse the situation through diplomacy.

North Korea has expelled U.N. weapon inspectors and threatened to resume missile testing in a standoff the Bush administration has said it is determined to resolve diplomatically.